• Stay Connected

The House That Duo Built

This is one of architect Duo Dickinson‘s latest coastal Connecticut projects, an empty nester home that is four stories high along Long Island Sound. Full disclosure here, I have known Duo for years,  our kids went to school together, and he serves on the board of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center with me. We’re lucky to have him at “The Kate” in Old Saybrook as he is a lover of the arts and is also involved with drawing up plans at the theater as we expand.

To say that Duo is a character is an understatement, his fun-loving nature is not exactly what you might expect from a Cornell degreed Ivy Leaguer, no stiff upper crust lip here, he’s self effacing in most matters. I would find him hysterical on all kinds of levels.

If Duo is building a home, you can tell it’s one of his, he has distinct markers including what I call “fat columns.” In this beautiful home I’m showing you here, those “fat columns” are seen in the interior and they are the balusters in the staircase. Duo has  details that he likes to put into his work that a lot of architects just don’t do any more. Duo also loves to use items that have seen life before in other buildings. Yep, he’s a “green guy.”

He’s just published  his latest book called “Staying Put, Remodel Your House to Get the Home You Want.” The book is proof positive that he can work on all kinds of levels which is what you want in a guy that is designing the home you’re in now or what you’re dreaming up.

Duo’s personality, which comes out a bit in the video below is perfect for HGTV, he almost landed a show, but producers said he wasn’t right for the job, I think they missed the boat big time on that…he’s perfect. Duo says what he thinks most of the time and I find that not only refreshing, but very entertaining. Speaking of being a character, when the weather gets warm on go his shorts and knee highs and out he goes on his house calls. I was lucky enough to go along on this one where he talked to the homeowner about the most minute details at this project he dubbed on the spot “house o decks.”

Duo, with at least 30 years of building under his belt, is one of those architects that knows about buildability, he doesn’t just draw up a plan on a piece of paper, he really does know how to build it. That is rather rare among architects, also rare, the amount of time he gives to others for free. He serves on all kinds of boards and gives back on a regular basis and I mean all of the time, it’s just his nature to help others. Up to 30 percent of his ongoing work is dedicated to pro bono or at-cost work for not-for-profits.

He’s been successful over the years, even in economic downturns because he knows how to reinvent and he understands what people want and really need. Duo is one of a kind, I hope you get to meet him someday even if he’s not remodeling your home or building you a new one.